Saturday, 16 September 2017

Friday Reflections - 70

Work has begun in earnest this week. Looking back, it has been a very good week (though it didn't always feel like it!). I'm still working out exactly how much we can fit in to the schedule, though, so there will probably be a few weeks of tweaking the programme.

We went on another nature walk at the beginning of the week, hunting for mini-beasts and drawing them. 

Hunting for Mini-Beasts

We've also fitted in a couple of runs over the week. Last Saturday, my 8  year old was pleased to achieve a new personal best at parkrun, and we also met with friends during the week for running and a picnic in the park. It rained fairly heavily as we were leaving, which the children enjoyed!

We watched the Great British Bake Off together (catching up with it a couple of days late), and my 8 year old made a brilliant crown loaf for us to enjoy. I did little more than find ingredients for him, and he was really pleased with his cooking.

My 8 Year Old with his Bread

Crown Loaf

Most of the week has seen the children deep in their book work. They've all studied hard, and my marking box has been full at the end of each day. My 8 year old has just started Latin, and is very enthusiastic, which is fun. 

In addition to keeping up with the children's work, we have church meetings starting up again in our home, I have quite a bit of planning and preparation for out home education group which is starting up properly next Friday, and I am trying to squeeze in a bit of running, reading and crochet in too (it keeps me sane!). 

Monday, 11 September 2017

Year 7 Plan

It's begun - my eldest is now secondary school aged! This feels like it is a big change, but in reality the shift from last year is pretty gentle. Many subjects will continue as before, though I have added extra resources for both science and geography, and have moved to a UK curriculum for maths now.

I'm still unsure about how much I can fit in a week, so I am testing this out a bit for the first few weeks. With all that said, here are the resources that I am planning to use for this year:

Books for Year 7


Discover Bible notes.

Bible Time; We have been working through the Bible in chunks.

In addition, we will have family devotions led by Michael over breakfast. My eldest is also reading through the Bible on his own, starting again in Genesis just a week or two ago after making it all the way through.

(See here for more about how we teach the Bible to our children.)


Rod & Staff Building Christian English 8, Preparing for Usefulness
Writing with Skill 1 & 2
The Creative Writer, Level 1
Set Reading


Galore Park Mathematics for Common Entrance Two
Mental Maths


The Story of the World Volume 3: Early Modern Times

(I have written about this curriculum here)


Latin Prep Book 3

Classical Greek

An Introduction to Classical Greek (Continued)


Programming (
Touch typing


An art project once a week (sometimes as part of our history programme).
We plan to use lessons from ArtAchieve for at least some weeks.


Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol. 2 (I've written about this here.)
Exploring Nature with Children (New for this year.)
Galore Park Science for Common Entrance: Biology
Galore Park Science for Common Entrance: Chemistry
Galore Park Science for Common Entrance: Physics


Galore Park Geography for Common Entrance: Human Geography
Galore Park Geography for Common Entrance: Physical Geography



Friday, 8 September 2017

Friday Reflections - 69

The beginning of September is often a time of mixed emotions for me as a home educator. My facebook page is full of sweet pictures of children heading off to school, and life is becoming hectic once again as we all adjust to a new routine. A slightly grumpy child or a messy piece of work or just the exhaustion of long days trying to balance everything can make me wonder why I am doing this at all!

On the other hand, as we settle back into our work patterns at the beginning of term, and the start of a new academic year, it is good to see the children working well, and thriving in so many of the activities that we do during the week.

Here have been some of the highlights of the week:

Our first nature walk took place on Monday. I've chosen for us to visit some local woods each week this year for a change. We were looking for different seeds this time. The children drew some pictures, and took plenty of samples back for our nature table.

Drawing on our Nature Walk

Nature Table

Each morning after breakfast I read aloud to the children for a while. This is one of their favourite parts of the day! At the moment I am reading On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson, The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski, and Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick. While I read they sometimes just snuggle on the sofa (maybe with a hamster!), or colour or sew or draw as they listen. This morning I had two happy moments: firstly when they all begged for another chapter of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and secondly when the older two spontaneously told me all they had learned last year about density and buoyancy during their science lessons with Michael (prompted by today's chapter about Archimedes). It's good to know they have learned something...

We've had a pretty gentle week - we're just gearing up for a full timetable - but we have tried one or two new things. The older two boys have just started a curriculum to help them with creative writing (The Creative Writer by Boris Fishman). I got the two of them to work together to outline the plot of one of the Star Wars films, which they enjoyed.

Creative Writing Activity

Yesterday my eldest did some baking (pinwheel biscuits and cheese straws) for us to eat while we caught up on Bake Off together, and I played a game of Labyrinth with my daughter. It's good to have time for these activities as well as our more formal work.

Baking Fun

Board Game Fun

Today we met with our home education group for the first time this term. We were supposed to be having a picnic in the park, but the weather was very wet so we had an indoor picnic instead. Everyone seemed to have a good time, though, and the children are looking forward to our science themed sessions beginning in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Year 6 Plan

My 10 year old is beginning his Year 6 work this week - I can't believe that he's at this stage already! For more information about the curriculum I use, see here.

Here's what I have planned for him for the coming year:


Discover Bible notes.

Bible Time. We will continue to work through the Bible together. I'm also thinking of doing some more formal teaching of doctrine with him and his older brother.

In addition, we will have family devotions led by Michael over breakfast.

He is also reading through the Bible on his own, working through different books at a time.

(See here for more about how we teach the Bible to our children.)


Rod & Staff Building Christian English 6, Progressing With Courage
Writing with Ease 4
Set Reading
All About Spelling Level 5 (I have written about this here.)
The Creative Writer, Level 1


Singapore Maths 6A
Mental Maths


The Story of the World Volume 3: Early Modern Times

(I have written about this curriculum here)


Latin Prep Book 2 (continued)

Classical Greek

An Introduction to Classical Greek (Initially just weekly, though I plan to build in more as the year progresses)


Programming (
Touch typing


An art project once a week (sometimes as part of our history programme).
We plan to use lessons from ArtAchieve for at least some weeks.


Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol. 2 (I've written about this here.)
Exploring Nature with Children



Saturday, 2 September 2017

Year 4 Plan

My 8 year old would be beginning Year 4 if he were in school. Here's what I have planned for him for the coming academic year (see here for more detail about the curriculum I use):


XTB Bible notes.

Bible Time. I plan to continue working through the Bible with him and his younger sister.

In addition, we will have family devotions led by Michael over breakfast. We are also reading through the Bible with him 1 chapter a night (and we've nearly finished the Bible!).

(See here for more about how we teach the Bible to our children, and here for how we read through the whole Bible with each of our children.)

Resources for my Year 4 Child


Rod & Staff Building Christian English 4, Building With Diligence
Writing with Ease 2
Set Reading
All About Spelling Level 5 (I have written about All About Reading and All About Spelling here.)


Singapore Maths 5B
Beast Academy Grade 4
Mental Maths


The Story of the World Volume 3: Early Modern Times

(I have written about this curriculum here)


Programming (
Touch typing


An art project once a week (sometimes as part of our history programme).
We plan to use lessons from ArtAchieve for at least some weeks.


Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol.1 (I've written about this here.)
Exploring Nature with Children

We will also have a science theme each week at our home education group.


Latin Prep Book 1 (Galore Park)

Friday, 1 September 2017

Friday Reflections - 68

We are nearing the end of the holiday for us, and it has been a very full week.

We visited Bristol for the day on Monday to catch up with some friends, and took the children to visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge while we were there. We also went to a camera obscura there, which was fun.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

On Tuesday I had a theatre trip with the children, to see The Wind in the Willows. My 10 year old had a bit of a panic about sitting so high up, but a kind usher found him somewhere to sit at the back where he felt much happier, so I was able to stay with our other children in our seats, and we all had a good time in the end.

Wednesday was a bit quieter in general, but I took my daughter to a cookery class (a birthday gift for her), where she made chocolate crunch bars. She also won a Crunchie, which she was very pleased with!

Cooking Fun

We finished the week with two days of holiday club at church. Michael has been very busy, and I have been quite busy, with preparations all week, so we were pleased that it seemed to go well! The first day was about when Jesus met the rich young ruler, so we had some camel themed crafts.

Camel Biscuits to Decorate

Junk-Modelled Camels

A hectic week has left me with little time to prepare for the coming term. Although many things are ready, I still have some work to do! I am planning a gentle introduction to work next week before we begin in earnest the following Monday. It has been refreshing to have a bit of a break, and a slightly slower pace of life, but I know that everything will be pretty full on soon. It's always a strange time; it's good to be getting going again with new books and ideas, but the year ahead always seems a little daunting.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Year 2 Plan

My 6 year old would be going into Year 2 if she were in school. In reality, I plan the work based on what I think she is ready for, not on which year group she should be in (which I frequently forget!).

Having said that, here is the plan for the curriculum that I plan to use for her in the coming year. I have written here in more detail about the resources that I use for my primary aged children.


Bible Time. I will continue working through the Bible with her, along with her 8 year old brother.

She will also be using XTB Bible notes.

In addition, we will have family devotions led by Michael over breakfast, and also read a chapter of the Bible to her every evening.

(See here for more about how we teach the Bible to our children, and here for how we read through the whole Bible with each of our children.)


All About Reading Level 3
All About Spelling, Level 2
Writing With Ease 1

I have written about All About Reading and All About Spelling here.


Singapore Maths 2A
Mental Maths
Maths Whizz


The Story of the World Volume 3: Early Modern Times

(I have written about this curriculum here)


An art project once a week (sometimes as part of our history programme).
We plan to use lessons from ArtAchieve for at least some weeks.


Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Vol.1 (I've written about this here.)
Exploring Nature with Children

We will also have a science theme each week at our home education group.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Friday Reflections - 67

Yesterday, my daughter turned 6 - an event she has been eagerly anticipating. We celebrated quietly yesterday with presents and cards, and my daughter's favourite food for tea (meatballs) and breakfast (pancakes). Today we had friends round for a birthday lunch, including a cake decorated with our local parkrun route, as requested by my daughter.

The Birthday Girl

Birthday Cake

Running is certainly one her favourite activities at the moment! She completed her 10th parkrun last week, fulfilling her ambition to do so before she turned 6.

Post-Parkrun Ice Lolly

We also had my nephew visit us for the day earlier in the week, and I took him to visit Crystal Palace Park to see the dinosaur models there. All 5 children enjoyed themselves.


Other than that, I have been trying to get my house and my books in order. I am slowly getting there - but have lots I still want to do. In particular, I need to get my head around some more detailed planning of the children's work for next year - especially for my eldest as he will be working through some material that I haven't used before. Unfortunately, next week is looking pretty full, so I'm not quite sure how it's all going to happen...

Friday, 18 August 2017

Friday Reflections - 66

A week in Wales and a week at home is how we have spent the last fortnight. North Wales is one of my favourite places to go on holiday, and we had a wonderful time. We were staying with my extended family, which added to the fun, especially with lots of younger cousins around to play with.

We went to the beach...

Playing on the Beach

...and the Bunny Farm:

Cuddling a Guinea Pig

We climbed Snowdon (minus 2 children who woke up with sore throats that morning, which was a shame):

The Summit of Snowdon (in cloud!)

There were better views on the way down.

We also visited Caernarfon Castle:

Caernarfon Castle

Exploring is Fun!

The Top of a Tower

It was good to rest, and to get outdoors a lot. We came home refreshed, and tired out in a good way!

We have been home this week, and have been enjoying different activities. I've also been steadily working through my summer lists of jobs, which is less exciting, but necessary!

We picked blackberries one day, and I made jam.

My Helpers (1 down with a sore throat...)

Picking in Action

The Jam

My 10 year old has done some baking, everyone has been reading, and quite a lot of Lego has been built.

Tiny Cupcakes

The most exciting day was when we went to buy a hamster for my 10 year old. He's been waiting a while, but now we are back from holiday the time is right. She's called Nugget, and is very cute and quite lively. I never thought we'd have pets, and now we have four! The children love them, and it's a great way for them to learn responsibility.

Nugget Eating a Treat

Saturday, 5 August 2017

A Break in the Lake District

As a family, we have just spent the last week-and-a-bit in the Lake District. For most of this time we have been attending the Keswick Convention, as we have done each year for a while now. It's been great to be encouraged as we have heard talks on the book of Hebrews. It's a busy week, though, so we are all a little tired. The boys in particular have had a series of late nights as they are all old enough to attend evening meetings for their age group. We've also been out and about a lot, making the most of our surroundings.

We've climbed both Scafell Pike and Catbells. Scafell Pike was a whole day trip, and was a new walk for all of us. Although a fairly challenging climb for our 5 year old in particular, we had a great day. The children particularly liked having to wade through a stream - though Michael carried the younger two as we didn't want them to have to walk a long way with very wet feet.

At the summit of Scafell Pike.

Wastwater from the path down Scafell Pike.

The top of Catbells - a much more familiar walk.

Michael and I managed to go for a run together, and went all the way round Derwentwater (10 miles). We missed the best path a couple of times, and ended up very muddy, but it was great fun.

After our run around Derwentwater.

We usually spend some time damming a stream, and this year we surpassed ourselves with a series of dams.

Our dams.

I also promised my 10 year old son that I would take him wild swimming. When I was a child, we called this swimming in a lake, but wild swimming sounds much more exciting. It was freezing cold - but I went in anyway for a while with the children. Michael bravely fed us squares of Kendal Mint Cake as we shivered.

Wild Swimming

We left the Keswick today, but squeezed in a parkrun before we set off. The younger two both ran with Michael and me. My daughter fell halfway round, adding to an impressive number of scrapes and bruises that she's acquired over the last week, but managed to finish in good cheer.

Well-deserved ice creams after parkrun.

Now we have a couple of days to rest with Michael's parents before we head off to North Wales for a few days - probably for more walking, running, and perhaps a repeat of wild swimming if I can face it!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Friday Reflections - 65

We have enjoyed the first week of our summer break, although it always takes me a few days to adjust to the change of pace!

The children have spent much of the week building Lego together, followed by playing with their creations. My 10 year old also made a stop motion film with the Lego one afternoon.

In addition, there has been plenty of reading happening. Books are always popular anyway, but we have begun our annual Summer Reading Challenge, which has added to the enthusiasm. The children are already making very good progress, while Michael and I are just about keeping up with where we need to be if we are going to complete our challenges!

For me, the summer means getting on with lots of household jobs, as well as planning the children's education for the following year. I have a number of sides of A4 paper with jobs on. I've only managed a few so far, but there is still quite a lot of summer left. The planning for curriculum is going well, and I have managed to choose and order most things for next year already. Parcels of books are arriving most days.

Next week will be more of the same for a few days, followed by setting off on holiday. We are hoping to climb a mountain or two again this summer, and enjoy a complete change of scene in the Lake District and then North Wales.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Home Education Resources

Our eldest child is now almost 12, and has completed his primary education. Of course, the change from Year 6 to Year 7 will be less marked for a home educated child (though there will be differences), but nonetheless it feels like a significant milestone. At this stage, I thought it might be helpful to describe the core curricula that we have used for our primary school aged children over the last few years. 

All primary school aged now - but not for much longer!
Here are the key resources that have formed the basis for our teaching while our children are primary school aged:


Singapore Maths

We have used the Singapore Math Standards Edition since we began home educating our eldest when he was 4 (he's nearly 12 now). This has been the core curriculum we have used for all our children. It is thorough and stretching. Here are some of its main strengths as a maths programme:

  • One of the key features of Singapore maths is the way it explains concepts from concrete to pictorial to abstract.
  • It is also very good at giving students good techniques for tackling difficult word problems. 
  • I also like the way that a number of methods for tackling different questions are given, which aids understanding of the concepts involved as well as equipping the children to handle problems in different ways. 
  • Often a topic or concept is approached from a number of different angles, so that you really need to understand the maths involved, not just memorise a technique for answering a particular type of question
When we began home education, this edition was available in the U.K.. We also bought the incredibly helpful Home Instructor's Guides to use too. There is now a U.K. edition of Singapore maths (available from Icthus Resources here) which we would probably use if we were starting again now (it wasn't around when we began!).

Beast Academy 

My 8 year old is an able, and enthusiastic, mathematician, so I spent quite a while researching extra maths for him to do last year. My key criteria were that I wanted something that he could do fairly independently, a curriculum that would stretch his maths in new ways, and something that didn't involve being on the computer. Beast Academy was an expensive choice (I could only import it from the U.S. (here)- not cheap!), but it is brilliant, and he has loved it.

The guides explain the topics in a comic book form. There are then exercises to work on in a separate book. The exercises have been pretty difficult at times, but this has been great for a boy who enjoys the challenge. He has, on the whole, been able to work independently, though asking me to help when he needs it. If I can't help, then we go to Michael (PhD in maths)! The answers include explanations of how to tackle the problems, which is helpful for when we all get stuck.


Squeebles Times Tables is an app that we use for practising times tables. We have also used the app for addition and subtraction. It's simple, but has been very effective supplement to the maths curriculum for the children.

Maths Whizz

This is an online programme which I initially used as a supplement for my eldest when he wasn't enjoying maths very much for a while. It's quite a good extra for the children, though no replacement for a thorough maths curriculum. I only use it for the youngest (nearly 6) now, and she will probably outgrow it in the next year. It's strength is that it teaches a topic and progresses the child at their level. However, there isn't much practice at each level before you move on, and sometimes I think my children move up the levels quicker than they should! However, it is fun, and introduces lots of different topics in entertaining ways.


Building Christian English Series (Rod & Staff) 

This is a thorough grammar curriculum, comprising a series of text books covering grammar and some writing for Grades 1-10 (Year 2 and up in UK terms). We have begun with the Grade 3 book (Beginning Wisely) with our children once they have reached about age 7, and this has worked well. This contains clear explanations of all key points of grammar, and plenty of exercises for practice (more than we have needed, in fact).

We chose this because it is rigorous in terms of its content. As Rod & Staff is a Mennonite publisher, the examples used are often Christian. Often this is a real advantage, as Bible stories are used as examples, and there is a section in each book about using Bible dictionaries and so on, which is quite fun. However, some of the stories are a little moralistic in tone, though usually they have been fine. Sometimes the exercises assume a knowledge of farming, or an ownership of livestock (!) etc that doesn't apply to us - but this has been either informative or entertaining, and hasn't taken away from what is a good English programme.

All About Reading & All About Spelling

I started using different materials with my older two, but in the end even my second eldest is working through All About Spelling, and doing very well with it. I have written here about these resources. They are excellent phonics programmes teaching reading and spelling respectively. Although time intensive, and relatively expensive, they are very good and well worth the investment of both time and money. These resources can be purchased from Conquest Books, here.

Writing With Ease

This is a method of teaching writing outlined in The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer. The book The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer outlines the principles in detail. The idea is to learn to write really well, though in small amounts, before you move on to writing more extensively.

There are also workbooks available in 4 levels, which contain a combination of copywork, narration exercises (summarising narrative), dictation exercises, and, eventually, writing original sentences. We have used the 4 workbooks with our children, which include all the texts you need and student pages for the children to write on, and is very much open-and-go. I have been able to buy these books from Amazon.

Writing With Skill

This year, our eldest began to use Writing With Skill, which follows on from Writing With Ease. Although it follows on, it is a big step up. Although it has worked well for our eldest as a year 6 writing programme, our next boy will be using Writing With Ease Level 4 in year 6, and I will be more than happy with him beginning Writing With Skill in year 7. It teaches key skills such as writing scientific descriptions or taking notes. Recently, my son has been learning how to write footnotes. We're taking it slowly, but it has been a good fit for my eldest this year. This resource is available from Amazon (you need a copy of the Instructor Text and the Student Workbook).


XTB/Discover Bible Notes

XTB works well from 5/6 up, and we have found that Discover notes have been popular with our older boys who really liked XTB, but outgrew it. They consist of simple activities focused on a number of different books of the Bible, with ideas for application and prayer at the end. We have bought these from 10ofThose or The Good Book Company.

Bible Teaching

I've written here about how I teach my way through the Bible with the children, mainly by reading chunks, asking questions, and getting the children to draw or write about what we have read together.

Morning Devotions

Each morning Michael leads devotions for the whole family. We have used a range of different materials for this, and sometimes Michael has just taken us through a book of the Bible a little at a time. When the children were younger, we have used Table Talk notes (which tie in with XTB). More recently, we have enjoyed The Big Picture Family Devotional by David R. Helm and Wise Up by Marty Machowski. We have bought these from 10ofThose or The Good Book Company.


Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding

I have written about this curriculum here.

This is an excellent curriculum, and science lessons are very popular. It's both hands on and highly logical and structured, which is brilliant. There are 3 volumes, and we have nearly finished volume 2 for our older two boys, and plan to use the third volume as our eldest enters year 7. The lessons follow through four different streams of scientific study in parallel (Nature of Matter, Life Science, Physical Science, and Earth and Space Science) , with each lesson building on the work covered in previous sessions. It has provided a very solid grounding in science for our children, as well as producing considerable enthusiasm for science.

Exploring Nature With Children

Exploring Nature With Children
 has been a new addition this year, and has worked well for all ages. It is a book (available as a PDF) which contains weekly ideas for a nature walk, covering the whole year. There is a helpful explanation of the subject each week, tips for what to draw or write in a nature journal, and several ideas for extension activities.


Latin Prep (Galore Park)

This course is heavily grammar based, which is why I like it so much. A thorough grounding in good grammar is key for learning Latin. It also has lots of translating from English into Latin (as well as Latin into English, of course) which, again, helps with strong grammar. Nonetheless, it isn't a dry course, and my boys have enjoyed it. It has now been replace by a new Galore Park Latin course, which I have been using with another family that I teach Latin to, and which seems equally good. These books are available from Amazon or from Galore Park directly.


Introduction to Classical Greek (Galore Park)

I've just started using this book with my eldest this year. It's pretty good on the whole, though I would have preferred more careful explanations in places. Again, there is a good focus on grammar, a good amount of English to Greek required, and lots of practice exercises.

However, it introduces new concepts without explaining them from time to time - presumably relying on a prior study of Latin. Since I know Greek, and my son has been studying Latin for a while this hasn't been a problem, but I don't think it's ideal. There are also a strangely large number of sudoku puzzles (with Greek letters) - but I now leave these out!

These books are available from Amazon or from Galore Park directly.

Computer Stuff

This website provides a free series of coding lessons, which a child can work through step-by-step once they have been signed up. There are lots of puzzles to solve by putting together bits of code.

Another free resource, this enables children to learn to touch type as they move up the various levels available. There are also games to play which rely on good typing, which my children have enjoyed.


I've written in more detail about our art resources here.

Draw Write Now

These books give step-by-step instructions for drawing various creatures or people as well as good ideas for creating backgrounds. They are particularly good for younger children (5 and up).

Usborne Art Books

In particular, The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas has been a rich source of inspiration, and a good way to introduce different art techniques.

Art Achieve

These online lessons have worked well for us, and it has been worth investing in the lessons. The instructions are clear, and the artworks the children have produced have been good.


Story of the World

I have written about this curriculum here.

The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is a narrative history of the world told in four volumes, with an activity book that can be used alongside it.  It is really good for getting an idea of how history fits together. The activities have also been a lot of fun to do together. The map work that is included in the activity book has also been very good. These books can be bought from Amazon.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Friday Reflections - 64

The highlight of the week for us was our visit to the Summer Science Exhibition, hosted by the Royal Society. We spent much of Saturday there, and the children had a fantastic time.

One of the exhibits was about imaging the heart, and the children enjoyed holding beating "hearts" which beat in time to their own heart beats.

Here is my daughter having her turn:

We looked at fluorescent coral, tried out a HoloLens (augmented reality), looked at models of molecular cages, and learned about Mars - and many other things too.

Wearing a HoloLens

Some of what we collected.

After such a fun Saturday, the rest of the week has been fairly ordinary as we have been determined to get all our work done so that we could get to the end of all our books by the end of today, and earn an extra week of summer holiday. We did it! Everyone worked hard, though some had more to finish than others.

I am pretty tired, but the planning for next year is already underway. Over the weekend, I plan to write my list of jobs for the summer - both household and home education related tasks. It may be a few days before I have the energy to actually start the jobs though - but at least I'll have some lists!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Friday Reflections - 63

Last Saturday, my 8 year old ran his first parkrun. He has been inspired by his sister, and was very excited to go for the first time. My husband kindly ran with him and our 5 year old so that I could run quickly, which was fun for me. After I had finished, I met the children near the end of their final lap so that our daughter could sprint to the end while I ran with our 8 year old. Both my daughter and I managed our fastest runs yet, which was very satisfying.

Tired After Running!

At the moment, our aim is to finish as much as possible by next Friday, so we are pushing on through the final pages of the books. Some have finished up some subjects, others still have a bit more to do - but we are on track. I am as keen as the children for our summer break to begin - we are really ready for a few weeks off!

In the midst of all the work, my eldest has been making cardboard weapons for all the children, with a bit of help from his siblings at times. It's been a lot of fun!


Lots of Weapons

Today we had our final home education group of term, and of the year. It's been good - but a break for the summer is nonetheless welcome!

Today we did our final South America session, making cookie dough maps and planting rainforests in jars (we'll see if they actually grow!).

South America

Rainforest in a Jar

This was also our final session focusing on different countries in the world as South America was the last continent left to cover. We have plans for next year, but they will need quite a bit of work before we are able to implement them!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Four Excellent Books (My Committed Reader Choices)

I am half-way through the Christian Reading Challenge that I am working on this year. It has required quite a bit of discipline to keep going at this rate; two books a week is fairly challenging. However, it has been very much worthwhile. I have read lots of good books, and a few excellent ones. Here are my top four from the last set of books:

The Whole Christ by Sinclair B.Ferguson

I picked up this book because one of the categories on my reading list was A book by Sinclair Ferguson, and my husband had bought it because he had heard good things about it. I chose it without really knowing what it was about - but it was one of the most enriching books I have read this year.

The central hinge of the book is a subtle, and obscure, theological debate from 18th century Scotland called The Marrow Controversy. The careful explanation of the issues at stake then - issues of law and grace and what it means to live as a Christian - is crisp and clear and accessible.

Furthermore, Sinclair Ferguson demonstrates the relevance to today of these issues. In particular, he helpfully shows how a tendency towards antinomianism springs from the same fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel, and of the character of God, that a propensity towards legalism does.

Reading The Whole Christ certainly stretched my mind. However, the quality and clarity of the writing meant that I looked forward to picking it up. This is no small thing when your reading often happens late at night, or in short bursts of time found in the midst of the mayhem of a home educating household!

I also found this a deeply encouraging read, a book that pointed back to Jesus again and again, and which showed the joy of free grace and forgiveness, and the same joy of being freed to live for Christ.

Invest your Suffering by Paul Mallard

Invest your Suffering is a moving, warmly written account of the goodness and kindness and love of God in the midst of suffering. Paul Mallard writes about the pain and difficulties faced by his wife as she has endured chronic illness over a number of years, and about the lessons the Lord has taught them both as they faced these difficulties while clinging to Christ.

For a short book, it covers a lot of ground: the brokenness of the world, the gospel of hope, the lessons we learn as we suffer, our hope of  the new creation. Each chapter is framed by a little more of the personal story of the author and his wife, which gives poignancy to the truths that he explains. However, the book is first and foremost about God and his character - and our reasons to put our hope in him in the midst of suffering.

The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves

This is an excellent book about the reformation. It introduces the key issues at stake, some of the key figures involved, and explains how events unfolded in Europe at the time. It deals with both the historical events and the theological issues clearly and fairly succinctly, but without being simplistic. The writing is engaging and fresh, which makes it enjoyable to read.

I also found the way the material is arranged in the chapters helpful, in that each chapter is divided into short sub-sections. Again, I often get to read in short bursts throughout the day, and this makes it much easier for me to manage without losing the thread of the narrative.

A Better Story: God, Sex & Human Flourishing by Glynn Harrison

Glynn Harrison's book examines the story our current culture tells about sex and sexuality, and looks at the promises it makes (and fails to keep) in these areas. He looks at the roots this narrative sprung from, and how it appeals to our hearts. He does this with both clarity and compassion.

More importantly, the central theme of the book is how we as Christians need not to focus only on winning the intellectual arguments about issues to do with sexuality, but also to engage people's hearts as we tell a better story; a story bound up in the gospel, and a story that speaks better to our desires for fulfilment, or to our concerns about injustice, or to our search for our identity than any story that our culture tells us.